Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beering in Buffalo: Part 2

Ok. Texas and Louisiana have to step it up in the Beer "restaurant" department. The next day I had some time to myself and zipped over near Buffalo State to grab some food and some brews. Ratebeer had my back once again as I found my way to Coles.

Coles is a great restaurant and cool little street near the university. Lots of bars and hangout spots up and down the line. I sat outdoors as it was like 73 deg F outside and just gawked at the menu. First off, there looked like a great line up of food, but the BEER LIST. DAMN!!! I haven't seen a beer list at a restaurant this awesome EVER!!!

I'm talking about 12 beers imperial level beers on tap, 33 on tap in all, and a whole bevy of super rare Belgian beers by the bottle. Not to mention that had plenty of food made with Kobe Beef. Just excellent. Just hit me with the flight.

Beer Log: July 13, 2009
State: Excited

Southern Tier Cole's 75th Anniversary Imperial IPA
This brew was brewed especially for Cole's anniversary. You know you have a great relationship with a brewery when they do that for you, AND IT'S ON TAP. Strong malt/alcohol nose. Copper with lacy white head. Excellent crispness for an IIPA. Strong caramel malt and very balanced hops. Imperial IPA that's not barleywine-ish. High 4 Stars.

Boulder Flashback Anniversary
Dark copper color with a tan head. Bready malty nose. The taste is like a buttery cinnamon muffin. Lots of butter, malt and hops flavor. Dammit I should have tried this one first. Quick finish with low carbonation and medium body. The butter goes away with time. This is just plain unfair after the Southern Tier. No rating.

Ellicottville St. Jacobs
Got to love the fact I crossed the river for which this brewery was named. Strong cinna-of-choco nose on a low headed black beer. Lots of dark caramel and chocolate flavor. Smoooooth body. Low carbonation with a full body. Lowly hopped with a great bread finish. 4 Star.

Southern Tier Choklut
Back to what is probably not my 3rd most favorite brewery. Milk chocolate nose. Dark brown color with long lasting creamy tan head. Lots of sweet chocolate, like a candy bar. Full full full body with smooth low carbonation. Like chocolate syrup was added. The beer has decent malt backbone to keep it up. The wife would love it. 3 Star.

Mikkeller Jackie Brown
The Denmarkians hit us with a brown ale color. Citrus grassy hop nose. Good strong grass hop flavor. The malt can't quite balance it. Bitter aftertaste comes and goes. But you know what, it works out GREAT with that chocolate finish. 4 Star.

Fantastic experience overall, and the Kobe beef cheeseburger was excellent. (I ate a lot of cheeseburgers on this trip). Run don't walk. Get to Coles immediately if you are in the Buffalo or Western New York area. I'm telling you now, you won't regret it. Especially with so much Southern Tier (who even have a Pumpkin Imperial beer), you must check it out. Get the Kobe Beef and have at it. Next up on the trip, Ontario.

Bud Light? Really Mr. President?

President Obama, you know I love you. I've even taught my 22 month old how to say your name. My co-worker has a crush on you too. We've had our disagreements (your tax plans don't do jack for me), but now, I have a serious bone to pick with you: BUD FREAKING LIGHT?

Are you serious? I've been waiting for days to see what you would drink when you offered to have a beer with Skip Gates and his arresting officer (who was only doing his job...another day, another post). I had hoped that you, a Harvard alum who lived for years in the home of the Boston Beer Company, would choose an AMERICAN beer. I was even foolish enough to dream that you would not only choose a craft beer, but that you would choose a less familiar style: an American brown (Samuel Adams Brown), a golden ale (Flying Dog Tire Bite), maybe even a pale ale (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale). But no, Mr. President, you dashed all of my hopes and dreams and chose BUD FREAKING LIGHT. Not only did you choose a foreign brewer, but what happened to supporting small businesses? You couldn't give a small craft beer company some love? Mr. President, I'm not mad at you for choosing a beer that tastes like watered down water, but after the slip you made at the press conference that led to this "Beer Summit," you should know that your beer choice is also political.

Mr. President, I think you need a new advisor. Might I suggest for the next time you screw up and need a Beer Summit you allow the Beer Brotha to recommend some good, old fashioned AMERICAN beer for the AMERICAN President? Skip's arresting officer had the good sense to go with Blue Moon. Out of the three, I'll go with Skip's choice: Red Stripe, hooray beer!

UPDATE: I hear on's daily podcast (Political Gabfest) that Skip Gates changed his choice to Sam Adams Light after a MA congressman complained.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beering in Buffalo: Part 1

Ah back in the old Great Lakes. After our reunion in Atlanta, I took the baby on a plane up to Buffalo, NY to spend the week with my mother and grandmother. The baby does really well on airplanes and I figured that since I had the days off, why not. I haven't been back to Buffalo since I was a kid. My mother was actually driving back from Atlanta with her fiance, so I stayed at my grandmother's house in Williamsville. When we got there, we decided to get some food and made our way over to Pizza Plant.

Pizza Plant came up on my Ratebeer searches for a beer bar in Williamsville. A web search of the Plant shows that they are HUGE into craft beer, with brewer's nights and whatnot. The place was jam packed with flare and whatnot. We ordered the BBQ chicken pizza and I had a couple of great beers, Inferno Pale Ale and Flying Bison Aviator Red. I couldn't really get the review down but the beers went pretty well with the BBQ.

The next day the baby went to the daycare my grandmother owns and I tried to get some work done. To get out of the house, I hopped in the car and went on to the Buffalo Brewpub, which is also in Williamsville.

Buffalo's first brewpub had a nice wooded kind of decor. I counted 34 taps on the wall with 4 of their own beers and several other local beers. It was somewhat early in the afternoon, so you know the kind of dudes that hang out drinking in a bar at 3PM on a workday. So I belly up to the bar and order the flight.

Bartender put a lemon on the glass, but if that's how they drink it... Nice banana and clove flavor. Low hops and a very good medium body. It tastes great cold and is kind of tingly on the tongue, nullus. Give me a High 3 Star even with the lemon.

Big white lasting head with lots of bubbles. The nose is bready and lemony. Taste is a big bread flavor without much else. The aftertaste is pretty bready as well. Low to medium hops. A little puckering feeling which to me means a hint of sourness. 3 Stars.

No head but a cookie nose (I know that's not specific). Medium body with a puckering sourness. Kinda like stale bread. 1 Star. I overheard some other guys saying they didn't like the Amber as well. They gotta work on this one.

Got to give them some props for the creative names. Cloudy orange color. No head, no nose but a sour hop flavor. And to think, we started off so well. Not cool. The beers are getting more sour on me. Kinda reminds me of Kona's Passion fruit wheat beer. No rating.

Deep ruby red color. Nose is sweet chocolate, cinnamon, and fruit. Flavors of chocolate, coffee and some lingering light malt. Very easy to drink with low hops. Full Body, 3 Star.

Three out of Five ain't bad. I'll say their top three beers are 1) Weisse, 2) Lager, and 3) Stout.

While I'm still here:

Saranac Pomegranate Wheat
Nose is pomegranate I guess. Who the hell knows what that smells like? Cloudy gold color with a big white head. There is an OK fruit flavor but a little light for a wheat beer. More like a bready beer. High carbonation and moderate drinkability. 2 Stars.

Flying Bison Rusty Chain
Nose is bready. Good citrus hops suddenly behind a light malt. Copper color. Low 3 Star.

To wrap it up, this place was pretty damn nice. I didn't order any food (still full from the reheated pizza), but it works for me. I'm sure I would enjoy frequenting this place from time to time. Looking forward to getting onto Ontario the next day.

Beering in Dekalb County

What a night we had nice night in Decatur. Just an EXCELLENT little downtown perfect for partying and partaking in craft beer. The next day, we decided to pop open one of the bombers we picked up from Green's.

Beer Log: July 11, 2009
State: relaxing in the hotel room

Dogfish Head Black and Blue
The wife had a headache, so may as well drink some more beer. Malt beer and sour nose. (When I say "beer smell", I'm thinking of what Budweiser smells like). Lots of carbonation in this copper colored beer. The head is reddish white and very strong, nullus. I did not expect that color with a beer that has blueberry in it. The taste is belgiany though, and rather fruity. I can see the raspberry and blueberry in the beer, but I'll confess I read that already on the label, so my mind may have been looking for those flavor notes. Moderate carbonation on the second drink, and the raspberry is coming on strong. Very taste on a hot day. Could go for some of this during my PE party. 4 Stars.

Later on that night after the family reunion pretty much shut down, we made our way over to a Buffalo Wild Wings for UFC 100. I was rooting for The Next Big Thing Brock Lesnar as well as Hendo. If you are a UFC fan then you know I had a good night. The first couple fights were kinda boring, so the wife left to catch some zzzzs. As is my tradition, I was drank the only local beer they had, Sweetwater 420 IPA. The beer was not bad and almost chalky.

Now I know BW's is a very popular chicken wings place, but dammit their waitstaff has to belly up and learn a little something about their own beer selection. That's twice now in two totally different cities where the waiter didn't even know what local beer was on tap. I don't want you to run down the whole list, just what's your stuff. Oh well.

All in all, a nice little weekend trip the Atlanta area. I always enjoy seeing my old stomping ground and checking out what's new. Looks like Dekalb county has stepped it up a few notches, and Taco Mac is taking things over. I plan on going back to the ATL in September, so hopefully I can find more local beer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

15000 hits: It's a Celebration!

Just wanted to thank you all for reading the exploits of me and the lovely wife as we beer it up around the world. 15,000 hits is pretty nice. My feed burner is telling me we get about 4-5 times the true hits that read our blog on the Reach (various blog readers and whatnot). Fantastic. By that convention, we are probably closer to 50,000 hits.

Now for the bad news, WHAT IN THE BLUE HELL IS GOING ON HERE! When the wife posts one of her introspective articles about beer stuff, the hits and reach go through the roof and the blog hits another milestone. She's also good for at least one new suscriber per post.

I put on all this creative method of beer reviews and being funny and potentially ruining my professional career with all my profanity and sexual innuendo and all I get is a message from Google that my blog will not be on their blogger list as I may be too explicit or doing something illegal. I'm feeling like Henry Louis Gates!

And after some Googling, her posts are referred to in other posts compared to mine. I mean COME ON! I'm writing some good ish here. Where's the love for the Brotha???

Monday, July 27, 2009

Obama, Crowley, Gates, and Beer: My Take

It's the BEER that unites us all. How cool is it that Obama has invited the arresting officer (Sgt. Crowley) and Skip Gates to the White House for some BEER to smooth things over. Suck on THAT Wine People! Hey Crown Royal people... tell me how my a$$ taste!

I'm sitting here wondering if they'll go with some craft beer. I guess offering them Sam Adams would be kinda lame as Gates and Crowley live in Boston metro. I think they should not even go to the White House and hit up Brickskeller to do some beering. Who knows, maybe after a few pints, they can knock back some shots. On another note, I guess as President you can never really get drunk, or even drink enough to pass out. We all know there's sleep, then there's the pure unconsciousness that comes from good drinking. As President, you're always on call for a disaster right. So you can sleep all you want, but being straight unconscious I guess is out of the question. Talk about a sacrifice. Anyway, if they were going to drink a Beer I suggest the Collaboration, Not Litigation. A great beer from two excellent breweries, working together to make the world a better place. I've blogged about it in the past:

May 11, 2008
Collaboration, Not Litigation Ale
State: Slight hungry

How cool is this? Avery and Russian River got together to make Salvation. And if I'm understanding the bottle correctly, they just both made the same Belgian style of beer and blended them. Gotta love friends. "Sticking together is what good waffles do."

It's cloudy with a dark copper color with an offwhite head. It's smells of slight citrus, fruit, and malt. Kinda like Leffe (who I say is the standard Belgian). It's full bodied and slightly gritty on the tongue. It's smoooooooooooth, malty with slight spice and low hops. There's no aftertaste, but I can tell that this beer is very complex. This one was Batch #2. Maybe by the time I taste Batch #3 or #4, I would be able to discern what's going on. We did at least drink it in a wine goblet. I start eating ribs and fries, and the beer tastes more sour as it warms up. I like it, and wish I could have more.

My take on the Gates Situation:
I've admitted on this blog that I am one of those black conservatives. We are like the aliens in that Rowdy Roddy Piper movie They Live. We are EVERYWHERE AND GROWING, just kinda in hiding. I got one that can see!

But even I know that as a brotha, the LAST thing you want to do is mouth off to the cops. I've had "arguments" on Facebook about this issue with some of my more liberal black (read, all of them) friends. When a cop pulls you over or knocks on the door, you have three objectives in order of importance, 1) Don't do anything to incriminate yourself, 2) don't get beat down, 3) don't get arrested. Regardless of who you are, if you mouth off to the cops, you are going to get ALL three. Once the cops leave the area, you can always file reports, lawsuits, or work it out with your lawyer present. I'll let Chris Rock explain in the video below.

So the arresting officer (who teaches racial profiling awareness courses no less) is not apologizing, and Obama is backpedalling on his first comments. Gates is now saying he wants to let the matter die and he's smart to do so, as he was about to confined to Rev Wright status with the White House if he kept this BS going.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Beering in Decatur, GA: How you know your 2 year old got in your beer book

I'm not even going to TRY and read and retype this one. My little girl found my notes and went ballistic. But a couple weekends ago we were in Dekalb County, Georgia for the family reunion, and the wife and I were able to steal away one night for ourselves and ended up hanging out in Decatur, GA.

First off, on Ponce De Leon we found a truly awesome liquor store with a SERIOUS selection of beer. They even had a cellar of just Belgian beer. The place was called Green's. There were a lot of people in the store at the time, and my wife was going crazy with all the beer selection. I was trying to keep my reserve as I was more ready to hit the bar scene. After picking up some beer we would never find in Houston, we went what is considered the #2 Beer bar in the world.

Brick Store Pub
The place was a little difficult to find as downtown Decatur (which I would've thought was real ghetto) was a labyrinth of nice beer bars, regular bars, yuppie spots, restaurants, and no parking. What makes it so wild is that there is a Marta stop right there. For those familiar with the Metro Atlanta area, this area of Decatur is kind of like the bar scene in Buckhead used to be before it got really hood five years ago: young professional crowd, very multicultural.

Anyway Brick Store had a nice somewhat rustic decor and was packed. We eventually made our way to a table after posting up at the bar. The wife and I both ordered a Cheeseburger and it was fantastic. The beer menus have some kind of old school leather covers, very nice. And the selection is AWESOME, with some cellared rare Belgian beer to boot. Combined with the food, I'll go on and say this is the best beer bar/restaurant I've been to (at least before I made it to Toronto). At this point, I'll just post my notes with the beers I tried and whatnot. Consider this a Behind-the-Scenes look at how I go about reviewing beer in real life. You can thank the baby for the extra notes.

You notice on the notes that afterward we made it to Twain's, a brewpub in the area. I was forcing the issue a bit as I wanted to make sure I hit the last brewpub in the metro area I hadn't had. Not on the page is the Russian Imperial Stout I had at Twains.

Russian Imperial Stout
Harsh chocolate and smooth flavor, kind of bitter as well. Moderately hopped and the chocolate is more like chocolate powder. I am pleasantly surprised with the crisp finish. High 3 Star.

There was a Taco Mac in the area as well, which pretty much sealed the deal of hideaways I would spend time in if I lived back in the ATL. Decatur was just a great little spot in the many pockets of bars in the Atlanta area. The weather was a good 20 degrees lower than it was in Houston, nice. We got out of Decatur and made it home to try a few more brews we picked up, then to keep it moving on to Buffalo. But that's for another post. Holla.

Sam Adam's Beer Lover's Choice

So, I've never heard of this before, but apparently Boston Beer Company is letting the consumer's choose their next seasonal in their Beer Lover's Choice. Blackberry Witbier was the winner last year. I don't know what the other beer tasted like, but the Blackberry was only so-so. However, previous winners are some of my favorites (LOVE the Brown Ale):

2005 Brown Ale
2006 Honey Porter
2007 Irish Red
2008 Blackberry Witbier

This year it's between an ale (which I guess is different from the Boston Ale they already have) and a pilsner. There are tastings being hosted around the country to help decide on the 2009 beer. One more reason I wish I was back on the East Cost: no tastings in TX. Oh well...I don't care for pilsners anyway, so maybe it won't matter that I've been disenfranchised because I live in a state that doesn't value craft beer. My only solace is that CA, because of their own jacked up laws, won't be getting any tastings either.

Another Top 10 - has published their top 10 summer beers. I can only get one in Houston and I grabbed the Festina Peche while in MD. Personally, I prefer golden ale and kolsch for the summer; Flying Dog Tire Bite is one of my faves. I like a lighter pale ale too...New Belgium's Mighty Arrow is my fav pale ale out there.

Anyway, check the list on and tell us what you think...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Best of 2009 (

I'm ranting to you all because the Beer Brotha not around (he's out in the middle of the Gulf). has released the Best of 2009 and the Best American Beers. I can't even comment because I only see about 6 of the beers on BOTH lists that I can get in Houston....Clearly, I need to print this list and head to California so I can get some of this stuff. I see lots of beers that are on everyone's list (including Beer Advocate and Zymurgy magazine).

What is the deal with Texas? Yes, some of the beers on the list are regional and only sold very locally, but some of the midwest beers, like Bell's, are distributed in Atlanta, but not in Houston, the third largest city in the country. Goose Island (Chicago) is distributed in Maryland. Freakin 21st Amendment (California) is selling cans in MA and VA. I just don't get it....

Monday, July 20, 2009

Live Blogging: Victory

Seems like I leave the Houston area for a week to traipse around the cooler climes, and I come back and things are a little awry. Probably the most intelligent member of our investment club has quit, and I just got a swift kick in the arse by one of the hiring managers as he went over my CV and told me the job prospects. I bought a lot of GM stock after they went bankrupt, and despite being up over $1500 at one point, I decided to hold and I'm now down a few hundred. The baby is even MORE clingy to me which makes going offshore for two weeks that much more difficult.

But you know what, it's all about new beginnings. And I think that you have to take the good with the bad if you are going to do anything. A very rich engineer once told me that if you aren't making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough. Anyone who hasn't made mistakes is either the luckiest chump on the planet, or has merely sat around and drank beer while playing video games and watching Internet porn all the time. Forget about it.

But with each one problems is an opportunity. I am working on my CV now as I have a meeting with some VERY high level folks in the company for career guidance in two days. And turns out the hiring manager says I should definitely mention that I have this beer blog in the CV. I think back to some of my posts with the sejhual innuendos and profanity laced rants, and I'll mention the blog, but not the link. Turns out I have a lot of creative energy that I need to show through in my CV. Good stuff.

I bought some more GM stock today to lower my average cost and seeing as how they are still there as a company with only a few brands, I think I'll be up about $5000 in about two years, even after Obama taxes the crap out of me. I'm meeting with the investment club member tomorrow afternoon and she seemed in high spirits as I set up the meeting, even as I flat out told her I'll be coming over there to bring her back into the organization.

The baby is just as clingy but that's b/c she loves me. I'm working out in the middle of shark infested water to give her opportunities I could only dream about at her age. She'll be alright.

To get ready for this new beginning, how about a beer whose name is apropos to what I feel:

Victory Whirlwind Witbier
It pours very noisily with the fizz (almost swill like), with an old gold cloudy color. The nose is banana and clove with a strong estery almost yeast cake smell. I can tell they either fermented it warm or we left it in the heat too long. Flavor is a great witbier. Seems like many of these taste the same to me. Smooth banana and orange peel flavor. The carbonation is high and the head went away in no time. The drinkability is a little rough, but whatever. The more I drink it the more I like it. Reminds of some of the hefeweizens I've had over the years, but a slight more orange. Aftertaste has that orange zest feel (you know, orange-like and a little bitter). 4 Stars.

sorry if I got a little too emotional, I'll be back to my stories of travel and beer madness, but for now, back to work...

Beering near Georgia Tech: 5 Seasons Westside

I'm finally back to the blogging. I had a great time travelling in the ATL and Buffalo/Toronto. We were in Atlanta for my family reunion and the wife came along this time. I wanted to catch up with a couple of old GA Tech friends after we settled in, so the wife and I made our way over to the 5 Seasons Westside location.

I wrote in this blog that the 5 Seasons in Alpharetta (northern Atlanta) and was GREATLY looking forward to seeing what the 5 bills were up to at this location. Basically the 5 Seasons in Alpharetta is the best brewpub I've been to EVER. We sat down outside (the weather was a good 20 degrees cooler than Houston) and ordered a flight, some lime shrimp and went for it. First thing I noticed is that these beers are completely different than the ones at the other location. Oh boy...

Re-session Draught Pub Ale

Bready and malty nose. Orange "beer color", if that's makes sense. Musty bready flavor comes out first with a moderate citrus. There is a filling mouthfeel but I found this one pretty boring. 2 Stars out of 5.

BR 549 Pale Ale

Cistrusy , grassy hop and malty nose. Now we're talking. Strong citrus hop flavor, almost slightly hop heavy. quick finishing bitter aftertaste. 3 Stars.


Cloudy orange color. No real scent. Sour white grapey taste with some strong bitterness. It's hard to put my finger on which spice that is. But whatever it is, it gets a low 3 Stars.

Decadent Brown Ale

Cloudy brown. Looks like brown apple cider. Nose is fruit. Lots of malts and hops, but the slight sourness ruins the party. I like how the bitterness tries to shine through. Low 3 Stars.

Dark Star Stout

Tastes like "dark". A touch of roast and chocolate, not overpowering though. It has a chewy full body with a black color. Low hops with a quick finish. Again, it seems like they are taking it easy. Low 3 Stars.

Octane Espresso Stout

Lost of coffee smell followed by a bitter coffee flavor. The citrus is coming through but it's not working for me, even with the grilled elk steak. Low 3 Star.

With nothing above a basic 3 Star on their whole menu, I decided against re-ordering a full glass of any of them and got their:

All Grain Barley Martini

Amazing how that works out. I don't want a beer, but they have a vodka martini with barley steeped in it. The wife has the picture on her phone which means I'll never see that picture again, but imagine a martini glass with a vodka, about 30 grains in it. The martini tasted like a smooth martini with a pinch of vermouth. I'm assuming it was stirred, not shaken. The grains congregated at the bottom of the glass, but turned the drink brown and gave it a malty flavor as you drank it down. Very creative. I've give that 3 out of 4 tiny umbrellas.

Overall, I'll have to say I was disappointed with this 5 Seasons as I was thinking of the other 5 Seasons. Not a bad experience, but only a couple steps above what we have around here. The food was fantastic and worth the experience. Definitely something akin to those fusion restaurants where they meld a lot of style from around the world.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I am here

I know I haven't posted for a while. I've been travelling from Atlanta to Buffalo to Waterloo and now find myself in Toronto. First off, why didn't someone tell me Caribana started yesterday? What kind of blog readers are you? I'm here in Toronto for only one more night and may not even get so much as an oxtail before I leave. Damn shame!

Lot's of great beering all along the way. A couple of brewpubs in the ATL and Buffalo. Not to mention some awesome beer bars WITH great food. More like restaurants with massive Belgian beer lists and Imperial beers on tap. I've been to many fine restaurants that don't have wine lists as extensive as those Belg beer lists. Spoiler alert: Southern Tier has elbowed its way into my top 5 craft breweries, maybe top 3.

Waterloo is a cool little town in Ontario just outside their wine country (maybe 20 vineyards). Not to mention WL has a bar with the hottest wings I've had in 11 years. Of course I'm in Canada and there was no IPA or even a truly hoppy American Pale Ale to counteract the spiciness. I think they pickled those wings in jalapeno juice.

I'll probably get in some reviews today, as the bars don't open up until at least 11AM, so that gives me a couple hours of downtime. Holla.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Best Beer Commercial EVAR!

Why do I find myself wanting to buy this beer by the case. We are getting this beer.

Kinda curious what the young lady at the 0:54 mark is doing there. Also, I thought the whole Nintendo sound effects was a Japanese thing. Shows how wordly I am...

Thanks to North Korea and Kim Jong-Il's own Taedonggang Brewing for sending this one to us...

Monday, July 6, 2009

Lovejoy's in Austin Review

Ok. So the wife and I are still on our anniversary trip and just like last year, we find ourselves in Austin hanging out with the Harley Davidson bikers during the Republic of Texas. For some reason we could actually find seating in many of the bars. Maybe it was just the economy.

But sometime in the bright sunny afternoon we waltzed over to Lovejoy's Taproom. This is the last brewpub in town we had not tried and I was greatly looking forward to it. It is just off the famed 6th Street, so I figured this place is just going to kick the ass of any other brewpub.

Well you walk in, and the darkness of lost souls envelops you. It was a bright sunny day and this place looked like it was straight out of the bar in that movie Sin City. Dark, very dark bar. Actually kinda scary. But I've been known to frequent such a place. Lots of black and cigarette smoke. Lots of heavy metal music, so that was cool. I notice on the chalkboard that they have their locally brewed beer and a few other local beers, so we grab seat on some sort of sitting bench like mechanism. I don't know why I thought there would be a waitress, so after 3 minutes I just go up to the bar.

The bar is pretty cool as it has many many pictures of naked women and old burlesque show poster on the low hanging ceiling right above the bar. Things are looking up (no pun). I order a flight of their beers, start a tab, and bring it back to our table. I still couldn't see a damn thing and I imagine if the dudes saw me writing, they may mistake me for a narc, so forgive me if these reviews are a little short.

Beer Log: June 13, 2009

State: Chillin in Lovejoys

English ESB
I've actually been looking for a good ESB. I manage to get the malty candy smell somewhere mixed in with cigarette smoke. It is pretty smooth and warm. Moderate malt and low hops. As my eyes adjust, I notice a dark amber color. 2 Stars.

Slight malt and chocolate on top of some sourness. Smooth moderate hops with some hot alcohol. Low 3 Star.

Wade Redd
Medium hops, low flavor. Dark color with some hop aftertaste. Just not there for me. It's very smooth with low carbonation. 2 Star.

The Chronic
This aptly named beer has a lacy head. Take the Wade Redd and add more hops. Not enough malt to balance it out. 3 Star.

That was all their beers, but they managed to have some 512 on tap.

(512) IPA
Orange color with a little white head. Nice citrus hops with low malt. It kinda reminds me of Drifter. Low carbonation and light drinkability. 3 Stars. I know the (512) will be expanding soon, so I imagine we'll be seeing these chumps in Houston soon.

All in all I think the atmosphere (particularly the cigarette smoke) knocks the beer down a peg. I think their little brewing setup is right there just behind the bar on a glorified homebrew system. Which actually could work out. If they had a patio, I'd rather try the beer outside to let the nose get in there. But I do think it is very cool that Austin has a get-lost dive bar with 4 beers of their own. I love a good dive bar, and most dives will have the BMC and cheap liquor. I would love to hit this spot when I'm feeling blue and just want to drink the night away. Not to mention the beer was cheap as all get out.

UFC Beering: Lagunitas and Boulevard

Ok I'll admit it. I always pull for the black guy in a UFC fight. Unless it's against Clay Guida, I just kinda gravitate towards the brotha (nullus).
Hey, I don't know any of these fighters from Adam, and hardly any of them are from my home town, so I may as well figure out some way to get emotionally involved. So if you are a UFC fan, you can only imagine how much alcohol I've been consuming over the last few months. Lighter alcohol beers have not been cutting it. Rashad Evans and Cheik Kongo have been getting jacked up. The night Rashad Evans got totally destroyed by Lyoto Machida, I was drinking some high gravity stuff as it was evident early that he wasn't going to win...

Beer Log: May 23, 2009
State: Dammit the brotha is losing again!

Lagunitas Undercover
Strong hop nose with alcohol lurking about, thank goodness. Ruby brown color with a white low head. Fruity nose as it warms up. It tastes of strong malt and hops. It is somewhere betwixt an American and English barley wine. Not cloying but moderate alcohol in the flavor. So don't give it to the girl at the bar, she'll taste the alcohol a mile away and you'll never get her... um, nevermind. Bitter and fruity aftertaste. 4 Stars.

Long Strong Tripel
By the Kansas boys at Boulevard in a 22 ouncer which finished me off. Light gold color, high head. Finally a damn tripel. Who do you have to sleep with to get a good tripel around here? Great banana and ester nose. The taste is a nice banana taste, light citrus, and a high champagne carbonation. Cloudy like it is bottle conditioned. A little bitter tasting aftertasting along with being sweet. High 3 Stars.
Of course Evans was destroyed, so that's that. It turns out they'll have the Evans-Rampage fight anyway and have them go through the Ultimate Fighter as coaches. They'll even have my boy Kimbo Slice on the show. I think this is first Ultimate Fighter season my wife will actually watch. So we get to see the Evans-Rampage fight we all wanted to see anyway. Love Lyoto Machida, but he ain't selling no rent.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Victory, Lagunitas, Steamworks & Southern Star. Who you kicking out the hot tub?

You want hops, we got hops. Let's clear out the old notebook for the Fourth. And why not lace in a few of my American Heroes.

Dusty Rhodes

Beer Log: May 15, 2009
State: At the Saucer enjoying life

Victory Hop Devil on cask
Floral hop nose on the low head. Basic copper color. Lots of sweetness to balance the strong citrus hops. A 30-45 second aftertaste of hop bitterness. Medium body and low carbonation. Just a big tank of an IPA. Very smooth and drinkable, and maybe some hints of oak as well. 4 Stars man.

Kurt Angle

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
The nose nearly had me coughing. The weak white head on this beer was very deceptive. Amber color. Taste has lots of bitterness but not overwhelming, or stoopid either. There is enough malt to balance the hops, good points there. It's just that I've had better hop bombs. Or that I just drank the Victory Hop Devil just before this one and now the Stoopid has hints of bread in it. 3 Star. Don't worry, we'll try this one again with some hot wings or something. Lots of pine needle and grapefruit come out as it warms up. Very smooth, perfect balance. Great name to boot.

Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan

Beer Log May 19, 2009
State: At the Saucer on the way to a 'Stros game

Steamworks Third-Eye Pale
Don't know if this one will make me wiser, but it has a nice citrus hoppy smell. Copper color with a tan creamy head. The taste is a good hop bitterness with a balanced fruity malt, a bready chewy finish. There is no hop bite or aftertaste. Very smooth and mouthfilling with low carbonation that makes you want more. The more I drink it, the more the caramel character comes out. High 3 Star.

Ric Flair

Southern Star Pine Belt Pale
Glad I was able to review this local favorite finally. Piney nose, white head with a orange deep color. Great caramel malt leads off with the hops playing clean up. It's a little empty on the 2nd draught, not cool. It gets a little better with food and I'll take it at 3 Stars. Nice finish with a slight bite. The best Southern Star beer Easy. I know this beer will be a staple of mine as we hit the beach and the pool later on in the summer time. Got to support the local guys, and it's great b/c it comes in cans.

Let's wrap it up with my favorite politician

American Ale Revisited

My first official revisit and it's a Budweiser beer. I'm working in the American of industries (the Oil Industry) which sometimes means you'll be in a place with no alcohol on July 4th. Such is how I find myself now. In honor of the country we call home, let's revisit my review of Budweiser American Ale on September 30, 2008.

For the record, I like it a lot better now than I did back then, and actually would drink it instead of Abita Amber and most Shiner beers. Amazing how things evolve. Enjoy...

I'm sitting here wondering what the people of Atlanta and the Carolinas think about offshore drilling as they push their car into the gas station. I came back from offshore yesterday and made a stop at Marcello's, a wine store next to University of Louisiana-Lafayette (Ooh La La). Go Cajuns. This place is fantastic, as they have a killer beer selection. And what's better, they had their Oktoberfest and Fall Beer RIGHT UP FRONT in a display. And being that Louisiana has some cool laws, I could buy beer by the bottle.

I noticed something we had been waiting for for a while now, and I'm going for it right away even though Cascade hops and I are on the outs. Bud is pouring a lot of marketing into their Am Ale. And the title seems appropriate as it has great alliteration and everyone knows they are now owned by the Belgians. This is America Baby (see video below).

Budweiser American Ale

I can smell that malt in the bottle. Pouring into a pilsner glass with a slight cup at the top. Skrong orangish white head on a amber colored beer. Smells of malt and citrusy hops. I am digging this smell. I first notice a light maltiness and emptiness (like their light beers), then the low cascade hops and some citrus, and the finish is rather bready. Medium bodied beer. Not bad man. Go you. That emptiness gets me about 2/3 toward the back of the palette. When I say empty, I'm talking about nothing but water. The more I drink it, the more I'm getting those hops in there, almost like a slightly strong blonde pale ale or just a slightly hopped amber, which it probably is. Another drink and "English muffin" pops into my head like the Craft Beer Podcast guys. I don't see myself ordering it over anything like my other basic 3 Star beers but it is light years ahead of 2 Starers like Bud Light, Bud, MGD, etc. 3 Stars. Just to have a mega beer on the list, I may put this one on my Tailgating beers, if the Texans would ever have a home game.

The mental game can get me though. You pour this beer in a bottle that says "Northcoast" or "Shiner", and I'll admit I would probably think more of it.

I can really appreciate that Budweiser is putting some money in a craft beer. But I think the megas are digging their own graves with putting such a push behind craft beer (even light versions). The evolution of a beerman is starting with basic swill, trying a craft beer on a whim (everyone else is drinking it at a random happy hour), getting curious about what else is out there, and then going on a Craft Beer sampling tour. Once you hit that last stage, you'll rarely ever drink megaswill again. You ain't gonna be drinking a Brother Thelonius and then picking up a Keystone Light. Even with these lighter craft beers, how long before someone drinking this Amber Ale picks up an Abita Amber. Or someone slugging down a Miller Chill grabs a Negra Modelo. All it takes is a couple good ones, and Miller/Bud lose another loyal customer. Maybe it's just me. Go America!!!

Saint Arnod's New Brewery

So proud of S-A. Great beer and getting better. Sure wish I could have an S-A Amber right now. Well on their way to being the biggest Texas brewery. Spoetzl (Shiner beer) better watch out. Those Rice Owls are a comin'.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Session: Will Travel For Beer

Oh yeah, I'm running late. I had "The Session" on my calendar, but was not explicit enough in the calendar information, so I could not remember what the hell I was supposed to do.

My contribution to "The Session" is: The Texas Hill Country. Last month the wife and I took our anniversary all of 150 miles northwest of Houston in the Texas Hill Country. This area was settled by Germans, Poles, and Czechs back in the old days. If you pay attention, the town names get more Germanic in nature as you get closer to New Braunfels. Keep going west on I-10 and the towns get more Mexican.

So we drove out of Houston and made our way to New Braunfels to eat at a nice German restaurant called Freisenhaus. You walk in and the smells of kraut and swine could knock you down. It was the middle of the day on a Friday, so there were only a couple of folks in there. The waitresses actually had strong German accents and wore the whole dress with suspenders and whatnot. I had myself a:

Hofbrau Weissbier on draft
Never had it on draft. Banana/clove with a little sweet and sour on the nose. Light gold color with a strong white creamy head. Little bubbles are coming off the bottom of the glass. On the first draught, I notice it's very smooth with a nice banana/orange flavor with low hops. Dammit who doesn't like a German weissbier on a hot day? Medium to full bodied. It's a touch bready and just fills up your mouth (nullus). Fantastic. 4 Stars.

After grabbing some fried schnitzel and potatoes, I got a little:

Warsteiner Hellas on draft
Smells sugar sweet. The bitterness is HARSH, but in a bad funky kind of way, especially on the aftertaste. Light clear color and very brilliant. But dammit this one was not good. 1 Star. Sorry stuff.

Before hitting the hardcore wine trail, we took a slight detour to the loop around San Antonio. We went ahead and passed up Freetail this time and after a big traffic jam, we found the Dodging Duck in Boerne, TX (pronounced bernie).

This brewpub is right along a river and has a fantastic wooded patio. We didn't even go inside at first, just sat on the patio. But if you go inside, you'll feel you're transplanted into a rustic wine tasting room, except it's beer. The interior has a certain woman's touch as you smell the potpourri and whatnot. Actually it was very pleasant, and I could see how they would make good money with the eclectic crowd at night and say the "retiree" crowd during the weekday.

Woodchuck Pear
First one in the flight. I had to fill out the flight so I just grabbed some cider. Ice cold and very clear, like water from Cary County. Pear flavor. Not overpowering pear or too high in carbonation. 3 Star.

OK onto the Beer

Quacker Oats PA
How cute, the whole duck theme moving on. Cloudy as all get out, smells like oatmeal, wort, and clove. Medium body is the first sensation followed by super thick bread and banana flavor. Perfect for this hot day on a patio. I get a touch of lime as it warms up. Low hops (maybe English style). 3 Stars.

Duckenback Dunkelweizen
How cute, the whole duck theme moving on. Deep brown and ruby colored. Nose has a strong chocolate and coffee essence. It tastes a little sour at first, then very roasty, then a little estery, and then you notice the full body. Pretty much walks you right the whole dunkel and weizen of it all. 3 Stars

Fowl Play IPA
How cute, the whole duck theme moving on. Cascade hoppy floral nose. Something resembling a 3 leaf clover head residue remaining on this orange amber beer. The nose is a little malty as well and I'm hopping it's balanced. On the taste, it's not quite balanced with the pinch too many hops. Not killer one way or the other. I'm just loving the simplicity of it all. The aftertaste is a light hop. Very well done. 4 Stars. All around great with the chips and salsa.

We roamed through the wine country, visiting places like Sister Creek and Becker vineyards. We hit about 9 vineyards when it was all said and done for the weekend, and probably bought about 30 bottles of wine. You talk about a beautiful drive. The Texas hill country is straight out of an old movie. And the bikers coming from the Republic of Texas biker festival in Austin were a nice touch.

We eventually made it to Fredericksburg Brewing Company (a brewpub) and checked in to our hotel room...which was ABOVE THE DAMN BREWPUB. Does it get any better than that? The room was very big and rustic. We had dinner at one spot, then made our way to the brewpub for some beering. We enjoyed many many beers which are not in the notebook I have with me right now (don't worry I'll get it later). I'm attaching a few pictures of the brewpub and the inn above it. Fredericksburg is straight out of Germany with a couple of beer gardens and great selections on beer. The beers were okay, but the atmosphere and the food was worth it all.

I'll hit you later with the rest of the trip, which included many more vineyards, and wrapping things up with a night in Austin.

Speaking of travel the plan is starting to come together for my visit to Atlanta and then onto Buffalo. I'll need to check with the parental units one more time to see what night I can steal away to spend a couple days in Toronto. Buffalo looks like it has some promising beering, and I count a good 12 brewpubs/breweries along Lake Ontario from Buffalo to Toronto. GREAT CEASAR'S GHOST! If I had the money, I'd get a limo driver so I could truly partake instead of just buying bottles and having a couple of tastings. Should have lots of blogging to do along the way.
I start to think that I'm having too much time on my hands out here as I'm trying to plan my beertinerary to a tee. Down to the brewpub or beer bar at the Concourse at the various airports I'll be throughout the trip. I really want to see what the Brooklyn Beer Jazz bar is all about in EWR. And nothing like some more Sweetwater in the ATL. Holla.
PS: the wife is a little camera shy, that's why all the pics just have me in them...

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Think I Aged it too long: Part 1

Every time I see this beer's name, I keep here Charles Barkley...

Beer Log: May 13, 2009

Unibrou's Terrible
The bottle is so badass I didn't want to open it. We slapped this one in the kitchen in our cellar area (basically on top of the counters) and we left this one up there for MONTHS. So we chilled 'er down on May 13 to finally have a beer called "Terrible".

Smells rather fruitay. Head makes noise then goes away fast, kinda like Rice Krispies. Very dark brown color. I drink it in the snifter and I get high carbonation, dry, astringent, and some kinda brown sugar sweet taste. Don't care for it all. Definitely not a misnomer here. Low 3 Star.

Beer Log: May 14, 2009
So we were planning a beer dinner a few months ago and the plans feel through. But one of the beers I wanted everyone to try was some apricot flavored beer. I haven't had it but it seemed to call me when I bought it in Lafayette.

St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale
Nose is apricot and malt. Amber clear beer with a decent white head. Smells like perfume aisle at Dillard's. High carbonation and grainy when you try the first slug. Followed by some malt and some apricot. Very tingly on the tongue. Just too heavy on the graininess. Medium hops with an icky hop aftertaste. Light body and kinda bready as it warms. I'd prefer lower hops and taking it easy on the apricot extract. 2 Stars.

Dammit man I was looking forward to that, but we had that one in our pantry for months on end. Oh well.

Silver Jubilee 25th Anniversary
Another one I copped in Lafayette at Marcello's. Sour and fruity nose. Light color with bubbles all rising into a white somewhat fleeting head. It's a little sour, bubblegum, and bready. A little off on the aftertaste with some bad notes of ICK. 1 Star man. High carbonation. This beer came out in 2005 and I think Marcello's just had some around for damn near 4 years, then we had it at our place for a few months. I keep drinking it and that aftertaste is killing it for me. Oh well. I look it now and it turns out it's from North Coast, one of my favorites.

I think the moral of this story is to take care with what you age. A wheat beer and a farmhouse ale, not so much. I don't know what to say about the "Terrible". At 10.5% ABV I was hoping it could stand up a little better.

Beaver's with some Texas Beer

Ah the Beave. Heard about this gastropub a few weeks ago and we had to check it out. You walk in and it has a whole rustic/eclectic/cut out of wood look to it. The tables and chairs at the bar are logs and whatnot. It smells like BBQ as well. I'll forgive the 3 beers on tap as they were all local beer, yet they made up for it with 75 bottled beers. This place is perfect for the Heights, a happening part of Houston just northwest of downtown. It looks pretty grimy, but it's damn expensive to live there.

I did try a couple beers...

Beer Log: May 9, 2009
State: Hanging out with the Misses

Southern Star Bombshell Blonde (ON TAP)
The more I research the beer name "Bombshell Blonde", the more I realize how unoriginal it is. But it's a helluva name, so I won't knock the boys from Conroe for coming up with it. Light malt nose. I notice a kind of chill haze orange color, no head. Moving on the taste, I get a light toast followed by bread (if you like amber beers, you'll know what I mean). A little grapefruity and a little sour (perhaps intentional?). There is some light bitter aftertaste, but that puckering sourness lingers and a touch cloyingness hurts. Medium body and medium carbonation. Sadly this is 2 Stars for Southern Star. I think they were trying to get to an amber ale, and it very well may be an amber ale if you entered it in competition, but not quite there for me.

(As I read these entries in my book from early May, everything seemed to taste sour and/or overly hopped. Could be my palette was evolving at the time).

By the way, take your girlfriend to Beaver's. It has a much better wine list than other beer bars and it has some very fun looking cocktails which I'm sure the ladies would love.

Real Ale Coffee Porter
From one extreme to the next. Light espresso nose. Black night color with a creamy head. It tastes like coffee, has a thin body, and is a touch watery at the back of the tongue. Low 3 Stars. The more I drink it the coffee morphs into chocolate and the mouthfeel is pretty dry. But that doesn't save this brew as the feeling of burnt coffee remains throughout the pint. Oh well.

I would much rather have a New Belgium Giddy Up or the Kona Pipeline Porter for my coffee porters. Again, this is at the same bar. These beers are local so I'm sure I'll have them again. If nothing else, Southern Star beer comes in cans, which is great if you're going to the beach or the pool.

After we made it back home I turned to my old trick of drinking a pale ale.

Summit Extra Pale Ale
I need to take some time and look up the difference between an "Extra Pale Ale" and a "Pale Ale". Holdup, I'm on the Internet, one sec...

Alright I'm back. After the first six pages of Google, I give up. I see a lot of beer pages for beers with "extra pale ale" in their name, but no formal definition. Wikipedia doesn't even have that. Someone please chime in and tell me what the specific style of "Extra Pale Ale" is. I get the feeling it is open to interpretation, but the XPAs I've had kind remind me of "Extra Special Bitters" ESB, in that the name is a misnomer. ESBs are not really bitter at all, and I find XPAs (save Bear Republic's) are not super hoppy like you'd think. Where was I?

Summit Extra Pale Ale
Light malt and orange nose. taste is some light malt and hops with a metallic character in the back of the palette. There is a funky type of hop with an icky hop aftertaste. Maybe it's sat too long in the store. The good woman brought this one back from her trip to Maryland. Clear amber color with offwhite lasting head. Low 3 Star to 2 Star.